Drilling a well in Nevada on the first day of summer 2004!  Drilling was for a WCU, EPA, USFS joint project to study riparian meadows.  WCU student Lionel V. on left. >>

Geology 405 & 505: Hydrogeology
Course Outline and Information
 Fall 2004

Purpose and Objectives:

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to hydrogeology with emphasis on groundwater, groundwater-surface water interactions, geologic controls, water chemistry, field investigations, and environmental problems.  At the end of this course you should

·         know, understand, and master fundamental qualitative and quantitative principles of hydrogeology

·         know how to approach and solve basic problems in field hydrogeology

·         know locations of hydrogeologic data and how to use them in hydrologic investigations

·         understand how hydrogeology is interrelated with other natural and environmental science disciplines


Course Outline: 

The outline below shows course topics and the order that we will address them in Hydrogeology; most topics will require about one week to cover.


Chapter in Fetter*

Introduction to hydrogeology and course


Hydrologic cycle with emphasis on stream flow


Hydrogeologic properties of earth materials


Darcy’s Law and principles of groundwater flow


Groundwater flow solutions:  flow nets, regional flow systems, and modeling

4.11-4.14, 7

Stream, groundwater, and ecosystem interactions

7.7, 6

Hydrogeologic settings


Groundwater flow to wells


Water chemistry—introduction


Water quality


Hydrology management


* The chapters listed in Fetter are those most directly related to the topic we will be discussing.  In some cases, the entire chapter will not be directly relevant to our class.  In addition to readings in Fetter, there will be outside readings.


Course Text:  Applied Hydrogeology, (4th edition), by C.W. Fetter


Course Overview:

Many of the principles and concepts of hydrogeology are difficult and require hands-on effort for full comprehension.  Furthermore, many of the principles and concepts of hydrogeology are conveyed quantitatively.  Thus, to maximize the value of this course to your education, your full participation (e.g. attendance, preparedness, effort, attitude) in the course is essential.  Field investigations, student projects, homework, and other problem solving exercises will make up a significant part of our exploration of hydrogeology.  There is a very practical side to this too:  hydrogeology is embedded into many of our nation’s (and world’s) environmental problems.  There is a high probability that those of you who pursue careers in environmental work will be involved in hydrogeologic studies.  Therefore, your ability to get a job related to hydrogeology and to do well at the job will be linked to how much you take from this course.

            And last, this is an upper-level/graduate course.  As such, I have high expectations for students in this class.  I expect students to demonstrate appropriate resourcefulness, independence, and dedication.


Labs, projects, homework, etc. will make up a significant portion of this course; because of this, we will only have two full exams (a midterm and a final).  In addition to the two exams, there will be several mastery quizzes.  The focus of quizzes will be on skills (e.g. problems) rather than concepts.  Exams will consist of essays, quantitative problems, and short answer questions; exams may include a take-home portion.

20 % Midterm Exam

30 % Final Exam  (cumulative)

25 % Labs (reports, projects, data)

25 % Class assignments, quizzes, class participation & preparedness


      All work submitted for this course must meet minimum college-level requirements with respect to writing, clarity, and completeness.   Work submitted that does not meet minimum expectations will not be accepted for evaluation, but may be corrected and resubmitted with a late penalty (see below). 

      All work must be turned in on the assigned due dates by 4:00 pm to be considered for full credit.  Late work that is not excused will be penalized at 10% per day (including Saturday and Sunday).  All out-of-class written assignments, unless stated otherwise, must be typed, 12 point font, double-spaced, and have one inch margins.  All references used must be cited in a standard reference format (see course web page).  A general exception to required typing is problem solving homework.  All written work must be neat and clearly labeled.  Problems involving math should show all work and have all units labeled.


Graduate Students: Graduate students will be evaluated as described above.  In addition, as part of course requirements, graduate students must

            1) answer additional or alternate problems and/or essays on course exams, and

            2) complete a mutually agreed upon assignment that will benefit you and the class (to account for 10% of your course grade).  This assignment may be a small-scale lab and/or field research project, a research paper (8-12 pages) that reviews and synthesizes primary literature of a current research topic related to hydrogeology, or ______________(I’m open to suggestions).  In any case, the project will involve a presentation to the class (probably about 15 minutes). A one page proposal for this project is due by Friday, September 10th.  The proposal should include the topic, purpose, rough description/outline of the project, tentative deadlines, and at least a couple of relevant references.  Within one week after this proposal is submitted, we will meet to discuss any changes.



I expect each of you to attend all classes unless you have an excused absence, although I will not directly count attendance in your grade.  This course is being taught for you—not for me.  Your presence, your preparedness, and your participation in all classes are critical to your success in the course as well as the success of the class.  Furthermore, there will be in-class exercises and quizzes.  There will be no make-up work permitted for unexcused absences.  Labs are essential to this course and most will require material to be submitted for evaluation.  Obviously then, missing a lab will directly impact your grade as well as your understanding of course material.  Bring your text and a calculator to all class and lab meetings.


Hydrogeology Lab:

Many of our labs will be field labs and will study some aspect of hydrogeology at WCU utilizing campus groundwater wells and hydrology equipment—the Cullowhee Creek Environmental Field Station.  In addition, because this course involves the study of water, you can count on getting wet  (Also, you can count on getting dirty).  The point is be prepared for the field--lab time can go miserably slow for the unprepared.  Most labs will require a standard lab report write-up; the details for the lab reports will be described in our first lab.  Probable lab activities are *Lab determination of hydraulic conductivity, moisture, porosity;  *Install groundwater wells;  *Determine aquifer parameters (bail and pump test);   *Conduct geophysical survey and dilution tracing experiment;  *Contaminant movement processes and monitoring;  *Computer modeling of groundwater flow systems;  *Analysis of groundwater using groundwater-tank models;  *Water sampling and chemical analysis

*Completion of a DRASTIC [pollution potential] map and report;  *Visit at a site of "active" groundwater investigation site.

Hydrogeology Home Page